Sunday, September 11, 2011

Word of the Week: Integrity



                            
It's people with true integrity who have always been my heroes. The kind of people who stand by their personal beliefs and ethics, even when it's not the easy or popular route to take.

On a personal note, I think of myself as a person striving to live a life of integrity. Getting it right, not always, but most of the time. I have been challenged several times over the years in this respect. Two employment situations in particular come to mind. I stood up for people when it was not the "popular" or easy choice at the time.

It made for some very tough sailing for me, at one place in particular.. They fired a person who had worked there for years and who had been an exemplary employee but not one who was part of the "in" crowd.

Carol (name changed) ran the main office. She was very conscientious about her work. Not a person to allow all the staff on their own whims to go through personal or financial information (which many of them seemed to think was their right) and ran a tight ship in terms of keeping the books balanced etc....From where I was watching, Carol was the key person who kept this organization viable and progressing.

But as is too often the case, she ended up having the tables turned on her and the majority of staff rallying against her. A gang mentality continued to build. It was frightening to watch.

After several weeks of this internal back-stabbing a board meeting was called. All the other hands went up around the table in favor of firing her, including a "born again Christian" who was supposedly Carol's friend and loved to sing hymns throughout the day. Looking rather sheepish and embarrassed as I remember.

My hand stayed down. My convictions remained unchanged. I was not about to be a part of this nasty and uncalled-for dismissal. And as expected, after Carol was gone, the "guns" turned on me, making it difficult to continue to work there, in spite of the fact that I loved my job and needed it financially too.

But whatever challenges I faced after that episode, I felt good about what was the only choice I could make.

As it turned out, the "excellent" replacement employee who was hired after Carol, went on to bilk this organization out of thousands of dollars and was finally arrested. I saw it on the local TV news, years later. A little smile came to my face as I remember. In the long run, they did not come out ahead by getting rid of an honest, hard-working person. But rather, brought this organization to the brink of closure and cast a bad light on how it's operations were then perceived, throughout the community.

Another example that comes to mind when I think of the word integrity. Sealing a contract/agreement with a handshake.I don't know if that ever happens anymore but when I was very young I often remember my dad shaking hands with someone and it was "a deal" with no paperwork required. It was a given then, that was enough. "My word is my bond". I don't remember any of these transactions falling through either.

 It's not always easy to take the high road, to stand up for what's right, to speak up for the "underdog". But time after time (and sometimes it can take a very long time)  it is "always the right time to do the right thing".

***

To my readers in the U. S. A. 

Your Canadian friends stand with you today.

We will never forget.

                              
                       
in·teg·ri·ty
n.
1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
Definition source: The Free Dictionary
Photo courtesy of: Flickr

12 comments:

Joseph said...

If people don't strive for integrity in their lives, everything is lost.

It is hard to stand up for the right thing when the majority of people are against something or someone. It does take integrity and you showed that in this situation.

Lorraine said...

oH G . that is one of the many things I taught my son, no matter what integrity is essential as is compassion and non-judgement, I'm proud to call you my friend hugs

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Hi Ger,
I think standing up for your friend was an easy thing for you, an automatic reaction born of integrity. I'm sure Carol would have been grateful. Unfortunately this had negative consequences for you, as the gang mentality turned towards you.

This would have been so difficult, but you can still know you did do the right thing.

I'm wondering if you feel that your education in the school system we attended and it's emphasis on ethical living, plays a role in your ability to do the right thing?
Brenda

Teri C said...

I am proud of you for doing the right thing!!! I have been in similar situations and quit my job because the whole upper management did not have any integrity and my integrity could not stand it, so I quit. Best thing I ever did! So I can relate.

Geraldine said...

Hi Joseph, That pretty well sums it up I think. No matter how hard it can be at the time.

Hi Lorraine, I learned something about you today, I didn't know you had a son! And I'm proud to call you MY friend.

Hi Brenda, It was an (almost) automatic reaction although I must admit I wrestled with the consequences that would follow, I needed that job and I loved what I was doing so it was very hard. But I never regretted doing the right thing. As far as the Catholic school system we had, I remember having wonderful teachers, many of them nuns too and yes, I guess they did influence by being the kind of role models they were. Part of it was my parent's influence too, obviously. We didn't tell lies, swear...at all, or it was big time trouble!!!

Hi Teri, I can imagine that you could relate to this story then, except maybe not for the impact of losing my job and being single. But losing any job you enjoy is something no one should have to do. I can certainly see you being a very ethical person.

Hugs, G

Jim said...

Nice refreshing post, Geraldine. I am glad I read it. I would like to think that most people have your high moral standards but I really don't think so. I think and hope that I do.
My kids too (three sons, two daughters).
..

© Westlander Poetry said...

wonderful parable ... thanks for sharing this story. I knew, before this example, that you were a person of integrity.

peace & love,
deborah

SandyCarlson said...

This is a beautiful post. Good on ya for standing by your colleague. What a place to work! Talk about the power of the pack.

Integrity is a tough one, to be sure. You have my wheels turning.

Thank you for standing with us today. Sometimes being American is a very lonely experience.

Ed Pilolla said...

integrity calls us to stand alone or with the weak. it's a heavy burden to carry. we are constantly tested.

Petr Mihulka said...

Reading deep thoughts like this article makes me feel very good cause it always reflects something inside me that I can work on further. I don't shy to say that it's liberating. Thank you so much ...

Geraldine said...

Hi Jim, I like that, refreshing! It is refreshing for me as well, when I read stories about people who have done the right thing, even when it wasn't easy for them to do. I usually tear up a bit too. :<)

Hi Deborah, So nice to see you again and thank you so much!

Hi SandyC, I've actually worked in (too) many places where 'the waters" were filled with sharks, in all sizes and shapes. Some really, really nasty people. But there were some wonderful people too, and those I prefer to remember. I was so moved again on 9/11, cried, contemplated the families left behind...it never ends. And not just for Americans. Love still has the power to conquer. And goodness will prevail. You are never alone with this pursuit.

Hi Ed, It can be a very heavy burden. So many people lose everything, sometimes their lives, doing what needs to be done and what is right. We are tested again and again, that's so true.

Hi Petr, Your comment warms my heart, thank you Petr.

Many hugs, G

Selma said...

It is difficult to find people who will stand by their word these days. Integrity doesn't seem to be valued as much as it used to be, which is a real shame. Standing up for what you believe to be right is very important. I wish more people adopted integrity as a word to live by.

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